New ‘House of Cards’ Season Imagines US Without Fracking

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The fourth season of the popular Netflix show “House of Cards” is about dealing with high gas prices in an election year, but in reality, innovative new drilling techniques have likely prevented an oil crisis from occurring in the near future.

In the show, President Frank Underwood is beset by $6 a gallon gasoline due to an economic collapse in Russia, and the entire world is running short on oil. In Underwood’s America, there’s simply not enough gas to meet U.S. demand due to Russia’s economic woes.

“House of Cards” shows how big a calamity pricey gasoline would be. A woman is seen turning down a character’s offer of $80 dollars for two gallons of gas, and features huge waiting lines for gasoline that stretch for blocks, depicting just how much damage expensive oil can do to American families.

Several episodes even directly draw the comparison to the 1973 oil crisis when OPEC nations issued an embargo against America and quadrupled the price of a barrel of oil. The 1973 OPEC embargo left such a mark that exporting oil from the U.S. was banned until last December.

In the real world, America passed Russia in oil and gas production last year and produces more oil than any other country. This makes another oil crisis much less likely in the near future. Today, the average American pays less than $2.00 a gallon for gasoline due to cheap energy provided by fracking.

The problem with the oil industry today is that there’s a glut of oil, not too little. The price of oil has fallen more than 70 percent since the summer of 2014 largely due to the surge in American oil production from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Oil production last year was 80 percent higher than it was in 2008.

Prior to today’s ultra low prices, U.S. consumers spent $370 billion on gasoline in 2014, meaning the price drop in gas is equivalent to a $102 billion tax cut for the country. American households likely saved $700 to $750 at the pump in 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.

American oil industry experts at RBN Energy believe most new American oil production will be profitable at around $40 a barrel, but these days, oil prices are hovering around $30 a barrel. In comparison, Russia needs oil prices to stay above $80 a barrel just to balance the national budget.

In the real world, the U.S. isn’t nearly as reliant on Russia for oil as in “House of Cards.” In fact, America’s dependence on imported oil is sharply declining. America imported 60.3 percent of its oil in 2005, while currently the U.S. only imports 24.2 percent of its oil.

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